By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator, Saturday August 3, 2012
Travel Advisory for Hamiltonians Visiting Toronto
By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator, Saturday August 3, 2012
Travel Advisory for Hamiltonians Visiting Toronto
Hamiltonians are used to being Toronto’s butt of all jokes. To them we’re a lunchbucket town, “the mistake on a lake”, “Canada’s Pittsburgh”… all kinds of nicknames which refer to many decades when Hamilton was the chief supplier of Canada’s steel. So when the Tiger-Cats beat the Toronto Argonauts on their own home turf last week Hamiltonians were given a much needed nudge to boost civic pride. Even the Toronto based Globe & Mail found the victory significant enough they published an editorial about it:
The CFL is fond of boasting that the Argos and Tiger-Cats share the oldest rivalry in professional sports. It is one rich in tradition, with fans of both teams customarily making their way along the Queen Elizabeth Way to invade each other’s stadiums. As with the Calgary Stampeders and Edmonton Eskimos, even regular-season matches between the two teams typically take on a playoff atmosphere, with regional bragging rights at stake. But a rivalry ceases to be a rivalry in the absence of competition. And in recent years, the Tiger-Cats have been incapable of competing.
Coming into the game, the Tiger-Cats had lost nine straight to the Argonauts and had not won in Toronto since 2001. They have fared little better against the rest of the league, winning just 12 of 54 games over the past three seasons – most of them late in the year when they had already effectively been eliminated from contention. It is no wonder that while Toronto had its largest crowd for a home opener in 16 years, few Hamiltonians made the trip up the Queen Elizabeth Way. Having admirably supported their team through its recent struggles, they had finally lost patience – as was evident from the sparse attendance at their own home opener the week previous.
Now, they finally have cause for optimism – not just because the Tiger-Cats won, but because of how they won. Quarterback Casey Printers appeared to have regained the form that made him the league’s most valuable player for British Columbia in 2004. Running back Jesse Lumsden, a local hero, was virtually unstoppable. Hamilton’s much-maligned defence appeared vastly improved. The Tiger-Cats played with pride.
CFL commissioner Mark Cohon, normally neutral, reportedly described Thursday’s result as “good for our league.” He was right. As the CFL attempts to fight off encroachment from the National Football League, the return of competitive football in Southern Ontario marks an encouraging start to the new season.
A not so charitable review of Hamilton was recently published in the Kingston Whig-Standard by Ben Rutledge. He was lamenting the debate Kingston was having regarding modern day commerce and transit issues in an historic downtown. Here’s what he had to say about Hamilton:
Downtown Hamilton is gotham grim, to the point where one might expect to see the Bat Signal reflecting off the clouds at night. A mishmash of eras and architecture, Hamilton’s core is not for the faint-hearted . Back when the dollar was lower, Hollywood would even come knocking when looking to film inexpensive ghetto scenes.
Gore Park, the heart of the city, looks like a miniature version of New York’s seedy Times Square from the 1976 movie Taxi Driver. It needs to be pressure-washed for about a month.
Down the street, Copps Coliseum looks like it could do with a bit of scrubbing as well. Built a quarter of a century ago in the hope of attracting a National Hockey League team, it was used by hockey clubs across America to leverage better deals from their municipal landlords during the 1980s and ’90s. I’ve had some great times at Copps (including at two concerts featuring The Tragically Hip), but I can’t help thinking it symbolizes Hamilton’s inability to play with the big boys.
Beside Copps Coliseum is Lloyd D. Jackson Square, an urban mall that has become a partial ghost town. Nonprofit organizations have filled in some of the holes, but huge swaths of it are unoccupied. Corridors that bustled with shoppers when I was a kid are now completely devoid of humanity. The last time I was there, I left wondering why I would ever bother to go back.
I don’t want to diss Kingston over this although I will say I loved visiting the city — when I was a university student — 18 years ago. I don’t know if I be so open minded today if I went back to see what “progress” had been made in that once stately Victorian neighbourhood near Queen’s University which was then and I presume is still known as “the ghetto”.
Whereas Kingston may be known for its historic buildings and peaceful setting along the eastern shores of Lake Ontario it should be known that here in Hamilton, we’re pretty rich in our own history and architecture. Here’s a wonderful photo gallery of old stone buildings which you may assume are Kingston’s, but are actually Hamilton’s. Here’s some more nifty photos of Hamilton. This my own gallery of Hamilton photos.
A chorus of opinion writers emerged over the weekend to celebrate the Supreme Court of Canada in its decision to declare government issued security certificates against suspected terrorists as unconstitutional. Now some rather local activist minded folk irritated by my cartoon are checking in to tell me how much of a fascist monster I am to swim against the river of support for the Supreme Court’s decision.
To them I let it be known that that’s supposed to be the job of the editorial cartoonist — to go against the conventional wisdom of the eggheads in country, whether they’re politicians or supreme court judges. This cartoon is to remind the reader that while it may be by all appearances an indictment against government curtailing the rights of a few dubious individuals for the safety of the majority there remains a threat that at anytime in the future this country will endure the horror of a terrorist act. We are, afterall, fighting them with bullets half a world away in Afghanistan.
But then the accusation is made that the depiction of these terrorists using the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as a plaything paints me, the cartoonist, as a racist, implying that all Muslims are terrorists. It reminds me of the time I drew Martha Stewart being harassed at the US/Canadian border as terrorists were breezing in without difficulty. Same accusation was made in letters posted alongside the Martha Stewart cartoon.
Should the terrorists be shown wearing suits, or baseball caps on backwards? Everybody knows what the stereotypical terrorist in 2007 looks like, and they resemble the very people you see in today’s cartoon.
So Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols build a terrorist bomb carrying vehicle, blow up a large building in a downtown American City, kill 165 people including men, women and children and as full scale professional terroists, get a full trial, full access to the US Bill of Rights, benefit of the doubt, aggressive lawyers, full disclosure of the government’s case, as does every IRA terrorist that tried to kill people in downtown London and every Basque separatist that blows up trains. These are all nice white people, McVeigh a veteran of the US armed forces, they do not wear beards or funny hats. It is obvious that in your world, the absence of beards and non-european headwear makes the big difference for the white folks who, with no real public complaint get full protection when the state takes after them. Even when the white guy without the beard and head gear is a pig farmer who is charged with killing bunches of females and feeding them to pigs, we still make sure he has the benefit of the doubt and disclosure and a lawyer and a fair trial. But the Mackay message is that Beards and Headgear and Mulsim identity get you ridiculed and we are urged by you to think those bearded, headgeared, muslims should not get the benefit of our Charter of Rights, and by inference that the Charter of Rights is something to joke about.
Its hard to imagine a more racist, destructive, mean spirited message than that in your comment on the Supreme Court of Canada decision.
But instead of my words about why you should be really proud to be part of a country that treats its most despicable, feared or evil people with a guaranteed set of rules of fairness and honesty developed over 800 years, I hope you will consider for a moment what an experienced US soldier, Lt. Cmdr Charles Swift, has to say about dispensing with the rules.
If you really believe that our Charter should be mocked in the fashion of your cartoon, there are wonderful countries in this world without a charter and without an independent supreme court. I would be happy to give you a list of places you might consider that would be more in harmony with your views. Given the power of the internet you could easily continue you work by email, so the move could be done with no loss of income. And often the cost of living might be less than here. Although I really doubt you would move to any such place.
Thank you for your thoughts. Fortunately, we Canadians are free to express our opinions and I know we won’t see eye to eye on this matter.
I just don’t agree that the Supreme Court did any good to protect the collective interest of Canadians in its decision to protect the rights of a few dubious characters. I also don’t agree with Parliament’s rejection of extending the anti-terrorism provisions. Especially… and this is what so many naive Canadians and Liberals are casually ignoring… when we happen to be at war with terrorists half a world away in Afghanistan. To not have these safeguards in place at such a potentially dangerous time is reckless. If it doesn’t raise the possibility of enduring a Madrid, London, or Bali styled attack, we’ll just become more of a safehouse for terrorist cells planning its assaults on our allies. If you think having to get a passport is such a huge inconvenience for getting into the U.S. now, imagine how inconvenient it’s going to become as we laugh off America’s post 9-11 paranoia with flimsy anti-terrorism laws.
As for the cartoon, the terrorists we’re fighting don’t happen to be nice white guys with Irish or midwestern American accents, but guys wearing turbans and army fatigues. So, if you want to call me racist for drawing the terrorists the way I did you might as well call all the soldiers fighting the Taliban and Al Qaida racists as well. How you conclude that I’ve painted all Muslims as terrorists is groundless and unfair. But it’s not like I’ve heard that one before.
While I appreciate getting your feedback on cartoons I think you could be getting much wider coverage by sending it on to the letters editor. Put it on the record, because the moment a bomb goes off in downtown Toronto or Montreal in the name of Islamic extremism I assure you, you’ll be eating your words.
OUTRAGE IN THE BLOGOSPHERE
Someone who runs the Dymaxion World blog writes a lengthy analysis piece critiquing my terrorists bouncing on the Charter of Rights cartoon filled with “racism and authoritarianism”. He thinks I’m a right wing propagandist and he uses the same argument Herman makes by suggesting I’m racist for portraying all terrorists as bearded guys with turbans. He adds the FLQ to the list of white guy terror groups which is a nice bit of trivia, but really doesn’t apply to things going on in 2007 despite how lengthy he rambles on about it.
He demands to know why another blogger dared to post my offensive cartoon. In defence he writes:
The Cartoon represents the opinions of many Canadians (that our security is being neglected for the sake of “rights”). Sure, it could be seen as propaganda, or it can be seen as a reflection of some individuals opinions. Whether we agree or not does not change the fact that such a sentiment exists.
If someone wants to ascribe an opinion to me based on a cartoon expressing the artist’s opinion (which isn’t supported in any way by my opinion written below), they can feel free.
Hi Graeme: This showed up quite unexpectedly on my screen today and I couldn`t resist a comment. Since then we`ve learned particularly in the last year that the terrorists look exactly like us, a lesson we should have learned when the graduates of Waterloo University blew up power lines in British Columbia two decades ago. And one can argue that Henry Kissinger in Cambodia or Cheney in Iraq or the President of Israel in Gaza were terrorists who looked remarkably like you and me. So I wondered if you still think that terrorists all have turbans? OK OK, I understand you have to deal in stereo types, but my ilk keep battling those stereotypes because they generally lead us down the wrong path, IMHO.
Hope all is well with you.
Herman Turkstra (January 18, 2010)
Things haven’t changed much in my mind since the above cartoons were drawn. I’m certainly disappointed with how events have transpired in Afghanistan since early 2007 – the failure to effectively root out the Taliban from keys areas, the failure to advance democracy in Afghanistan with legitimate elections, and a willingness to accept bribes from insurgents and warlords to enable mobility. Sure, you can call the white guys that ran the U.S. during the Vietnam war, or Cheney during the Iraq war are terrorists as much as you can call Barack Obama a black guy who is arguably a terrorist. I guess there’s different degrees of terrorists. A white guy that blows up power lines in B.C. is a bit different than people convicted of successfully/planning on blowing up and killing random innocent people. There are really only one kind of people who are carrying out those acts in this day and age in the post 911 era, and they all happen to be doing their killing in the name of one certain religion, and one certain god.
Graeme MacKay (January 19, 2010)
The stereotype of an environmental activist is the vegetarian, sandal wearing, multiple pierced liberal with no tolerance for a conservative government, and especially any type of environmental policy formulated by a conservative. It doesn’t matter how environmental a right leaning government could possibly be, it’s assumed by environmental groups that conservatives are more interested in the green of money than the green of nature. This, despite the fact that leading environmentalists crowned Brian Mulroney, a (Progressive) conservative, the greenest Prime Minister in Canadian history for his efforts to reduce acid rain, and his establishment of the South Moresby national park. Here is a case where the results of environmental plans are graded for their effectiveness. So while many would conclude Jean Chretien and Paul Martin as green Prime Ministers for advancing Canada’s willingnesss to embrace the Kyoto protocol, they fail the grade for a hollow promise whereby meeting targets to reduce greenhouse gases became quite clearly, an impossible undertaking.
Then, on the eve after drawing this cartoon I watched a great program on PBS hosted by Bill Moyers which investigated conservative attitudes towards the environment through evangelical Christians. It challenged the old notions that to be environmental, you have to be liberal. Here’s how the program is described:
A new holy war is growing within the conservative evangelical community, with implications for both the global environment and American politics. For years liberal Christians and others have made protection of the environment a moral commitment. Now a number of conservative evangelicals are joining the fight, arguing that man’s stewardship of the planet is a biblical imperative and calling for action to stop global warming.
But they are being met head-on by opposition from their traditional evangelical brethren who adamantly support the Bush administration in downplaying the threat of global warming and other environmental perils. The political stakes are high: Three out of every four white evangelical voters chose George W. Bush in 2004. “Is God Green?” explores how a serious split among conservative evangelicals over the environment and global warming could reshape American politics. For more on this documentary…